By the AllClear ID Team
Vanessa here with AllClear ID. The Better Business Bureau investigates thousands of scams every year, from the latest gimmicks to new twists on old schemes. Some scams quickly fizzle out, while others plague consumers year-round. Hereâ€™s what the BBB listed as the most prevalent scams of 2011.
Check Cashing Scam: Selling items online turned into several scams last year. How it works:Â After posting an ad you are contacted by someone asking about your item. They send you a check for more than the amount owed, ask you to deposit it into your bank account, and then send them the difference via Western Union. The money you wired is gone instantly and the deposited check bounces after a couple of days leaving you scammed out of the money you wired.
Facebook Viral Videos Scam: Viral videos claiming to show everything from Osama bin Ladenâ€™s death to the latest celebrity scandals were popular scams perpetrated by hackers, often times appearing to come from a â€œfriend.â€ Once the link is clicked malicious software is downloaded to your computer which then hacks into your social media account and sends similar messages to your friends. So the next time you see a sensational headline for the latest viral video resist the urge to peek, or go to an authorized news source.
Hotel Identity Theft Scam: Consumers complained they received a call to their hotel room in the middle of the night from the â€œfront desk clerkâ€ asking for their credit card number again because the hotelâ€™s computer had crashed. Scammers counted on sleepy consumers not realizing that the call was not from the hotel, but from someone outside who knew the direct-dial numbers for the guest rooms. By the time morning rolled around consumers found their credit card had been on a shopping spree. This scam was so prevalent that many hotels are now posting warnings in their lobby.
Mark Zuckerberg Sweepstakes Scam: Sweepstakes and lottery scams come in many forms, but the bottom line is typically that youâ€™ve won a large sum of money, but to claim it you have to send in a smaller amount of money. This yearâ€™s top sweepstakes scam was an email claiming to be from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announcing the recipient won $1 million from his site. These kinds of scams often use celebrities to make their offer seem more genuine. Instead of clicking on the link go directly to the homepage of the company mentioned.
Mortgage Relief Scam: Weâ€™ve written about â€œforeclosure rescueâ€ services and the scammers often behind them. Because the federal government announced several mortgage relief programs this year many sound-alike websites popped up attempting to fool consumers into parting with their money to save their home.
National Automated Clearing House Association Scam: We cover phishing scams on this blog, and the BBB cites a particularly malicious phishing scam last year. It disguised itself as official communication from the National Automated Clearing House Association, which facilitates the secure transfer of billions of electronic transactions every year. The email claimed one of your transactions did not go through in the hopes you would react quickly and click on the link before thinking it through.
Online Job Scam: We wrote about this scam, which the BBB calls â€œthe worst job-related scam of 2011.â€
Trade Show Scam: Consumers are not the only ones conned by scanners. Last year, several businesses were conned by organizers of trade shows or festivals that did not exist. The businesses paid up front for booth space with the promise of reaching thousands of potential customers only to have the event be moved to an undetermined future date or canceled completely. Usually the contract contained a firm no- refund policy. To check the reliability of a company go to www.bbb.org and list its name in the search box to see if it has a good or bad reputation.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.